The Gambia has been praised for its improvement in the fight against corruption. In the eagerly anticipated annual corruption index for 2018 released by Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday, The Gambia improved by seven points from 2017 to score 37.
According to the authors of the Gambian report, the improvement has been attributed to “the positive consequences of institutional reforms, as well as a political commitment in the fight against corruption” demonstrated by President Adama Barrow and his government.
The Gambia scored 37 out of 100 and ranks 93 among the countries assessed. This marks a notable improvement from 2017, when the country scored 30 and ranked 130, up from 145 in 2016.
The Gambia’s percentile rank for control of corruption in the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) likewise shows a marked improvement in 2017 to 27.4, after a period of steady decline from 2012 (30.3) to 2016 (21.6).
While the new administration has undertaken certain initiatives to reduce corruption, recent allegations of corruption involving the first lady’s foundation have raised questions about whether the government is serious about tackling corrupt practices.
The 2018 TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix places The Gambia in the high-risk category, ranking it 143 out of 200 surveyed countries, with a risk score of 61/100. Similarly, the Gambia’s Doing Business rank for 2019 is 149/190 with a Distance to Frontier (DTF4) score of 51.72 according to the World Bank.
According to the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), under Jammeh’s autocratic rule, The Gambia was one of the 10 countries experiencing the most dramatic deteriorations in governance quality between 2007 and 2016. Since the transition, the picture appears brighter; in its 2018 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House awards an aggregate score of 41/100, pushing the country from the “not free” category in 2017 to a rating of “partly free” in 2018.
Afrobarometer’s first national survey in the Gambia results revealed that almost half of Gambians (46 per cent) perceive a decrease in corruption over the past year, but one-third (32 per cent) say the level of corruption in the country has increased;
More than half (54 per cent) of Gambians say the government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” in fighting corruption;
two-thirds (66 per cent) think ordinary citizens can make a difference in fighting corruption, and six in 10 (58 per cent) say they can report corruption incidents without fear of retaliation;
A majority (55 per cent) say it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that authorities will take action when incidents of corruption are reported;
Large majorities of Gambians say the rich are more likely than ordinary persons to get away with paying a bribe or using personal connections to avoid taxes (71 per cent), avoid going to court (75 per cent) and register land that is not theirs (74 per cent);
Police and business executives are perceived to be the most corrupt officials, according to 38 per cent and 31 per cent of respondents, respectively, say “all” or “most” of them are corrupt. Officials perceived to be least corrupt are religious leaders (11 per cent), members of parliament (15 per cent) and traditional leaders (15 per cent).
Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal made significant improvements for the second year in a row. In the last six years, Côte d’Ivoire moved from 27 points in 2013 to 35 points in 2018, while Senegal moved from 36 points in 2012 to 45 points in 2018.